Today will be the last we see of half the teams at the 2010 IIHF World Championships, and we already know six of the teams that won't be around come Thursday. The relegation round wraps up, as the four teams involved there (France, Italy, Kazakhstan and the USA) knew by Thursday last week that they could book their tickets out of Germany for tomorrow. Two additional teams found out yesterday they had no chance of advancing to the quarterfinals, namely Belarus and Latvia. When you include the several lower level World Championships that have already taken place, we will have figured out who finished 9th through 48th in the world in 2010 by the end of tomorrow.
The six games that will get us there are as follows:
6:15 AM EST: USA vs. Italy (watch on Universal Sports), Kazakhstan vs. France
10:15 AM EST: Slovakia vs. Germany, Canada vs. Czech Republic (watch on TSN)
2:15 PM EST: Russia vs. Finland, Switzerland vs. Sweden
For a breakdown on the various scenarios involved in today's matchups, join me after the jump. You can also check out fornzx's predictions for Group E here (and feel free to make your own commentary on the tournament in the FanPosts). To discuss the games as they happen, head to the comments section. For the non-North American games, your best bet to watch the games is on the IIHF website.United States of America vs. Italy (6:15 AM EST)
If the United States gets a single point, they will win the relegation round and finish 13th, equaling their worst finish from 2003. For Italy to avoid relegation, they must beat whatever point total France were to get. If they can upset the USA with a regulation win, they can make this really messy. However, they'd have to beat the Americans by 8 goals for the USA to possibly face relegation. I'll give the USA the benefit of the doubt and assume such a scenario won't come to fruition.
Kazakhstan needs to win by two goals here, and have Italy lose in regulation, to finish 14th and return to the World Championships next year in Slovakia. A French win will almost certainly put them through as the 14th place team. If France wins, Italy will almost certainly finish 15th and head back to Division 1.
The winner of this game will advance to the quarterfinals. The loser will go home. Simple, right? Well, not so fast. If Slovakia wins, they will finish 4th in Group E and face the winner of Group F in the quarterfinals. If Germany wins, they will finish 3rd in Group E and face the 2nd place team in Group F. Germany would leapfrog past Denmark, who would finish fourth in that scenario. Overtime results do not change either of those possibilities. Belarus, currently sitting in 4th, will be passed by the winner of this game, and finish 5th in the group no matter what scenario unfolds.
The Czech Republic simply need a point to qualify for the quarterfinals. If they are beaten in regulation by Canada, Canada will finish 3rd and Norway will finish 4th in Group F. If the game goes to OT, the winner will finish 3rd and the loser will finish 4th, with Norway dropping to 5th. If the Czechs win in regulation, they will finish at least 3rd (with Canada 4th), but possibly 2nd. To finish 2nd, in addition to a regulation win, the Swiss would have to beat Sweden in regulation.
If Finland wins in regulation, they will finish 1st in Group E and play the 4th place team in Group F. If Finland can not beat Russia in regulation, then Russia will finish 1st and Finland 2nd. This game could be interesting because they will know who has finished 4th in Group F going into the game... will either team want to play Canada in a quarterfinal? If Canada finishes 3rd, both teams will likely try and win outright as they should. But if Canada drops to 4th... will either team want to face them in a non-medal game?
Like Russia/Finland, this game is a battle for first in each other's group. The winner will finish first and face either Denmark or Slovakia on Thursday. The loser will likely finish 2nd and play either Denmark or Germany. However, as mentioned earlier, if Sweden were to lose in regulation and the Czechs beat Canada, the Swedes would drop to 3rd in the group and have to play the loser of the Russia/Finland game.
Clear as mud? Alright, enough 'what ifs'. Drop the puck already.